Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Back to progressivism?

It's nice to see National Review's Jonah Goldberg step away from his once-enthusiastic defense of Bush administration assaults on civil liberties for a while. In his latest column, Goldberg pens a devastating take-down of one of the more iconic progressive politicians in American history:
I'm thinking of an American president who demonized ethnic groups as enemies of the state, censored the press, imprisoned dissidents, bullied political opponents, spewed propaganda, often expressed contempt for the Constitution, approved warrantless searches and eavesdropping, and pursued his policies with a blind, religious certainty.

Oh, and I'm not thinking of George W. Bush, but another "W" – actually "WW": Woodrow Wilson, the Democrat who served from 1913 to 1921.
Goldberg's take on Wilson is right on -- especially as he skewers the overrated president's vicious racism, which Wilson, academic that he was, cloaked in the pseudocience of Eugenics that so excited progressive passions in that era.

Goldberg also whacks progressives for their raw appetite for unrestrained power:
"Government," Wilson wrote approvingly in his magnum opus, "The State," "does now whatever experience permits or the times demand." "No doubt," he wrote elsewhere, taking dead aim at the Declaration of Independence, "a lot of nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual, and a great deal that was mere vague sentiment and pleasing speculation has been put forward as fundamental principle."

In his 1890 essay, "Leaders of Men," Wilson explained that a "true leader" uses the masses like "tools." He must inflame their passions with little heed for the facts. "Men are as clay in the hands of the consummate leader." ...

Again, Wilson was merely one voice in the progressive chorus of the age. "[W]e must demand that the individual shall be willing to lose the sense of personal achievement, and shall be content to realize his activity only in connection to the activity of the many," declared the progressive social activist Jane Addams.

"New forms of association must be created," explained Walter Rauschenbusch, a leading progressive theologian of the Social Gospel movement, in 1896. "Our disorganized competitive life must pass into an organic cooperative life." Elsewhere, Rauschenbusch put it more simply: "Individualism means tyranny."

It would have been helpful, however, if Goldberg had put more effort into connecting the hoary, racist and totalitarian variety of classical progressivism to the less-well-defined modern tendency of that name. Hillary Clinton calls herself a "progressive," but it's not so clear that she means much more by that than that she ought to be in charge.

Which, come to think of it, is bad enough.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home